To be frank, when I first became pregnant I was hoping for a son. Don’t get me wrong — it is not because I think sons are more desirable than daughters or because of the worldwide view of boys as being “superior.” On the contrary, I am very passionate about the rights of girls and women and know we have a great deal to offer in the world, if given the opportunity. No, I wanted a boy for a number of reasons, both simple and more complex. For one, I have a nephew, and although at 17 I would have preferred a niece when he was born, I quickly grew to cherish the uniqueness of having a male child around. They are quite delightful in their own way, and shaping the male child into men who treat women with respect and dignity was a major goal of mine.
When I found out we were having a girl, I was still happy to be having a baby, but also hit by a wave of anxiety and questions. Being a girl in the 21st century, especially in a developed nation, has its perks. Women are constantly being empowered and upheld, and there are strong female role models in every industry, from every background. But as we know, even in the developed world women are still considered “less than.” We earn less, we are seen as bossy instead of brilliant, we are told we do not look good enough until we reach an unhealthy and unattainable beauty standard, and we still have to juggle numerous full time jobs (between our careers, motherhood, and managing our households). Not to mention the constant risks that girls face of harassment or assault just by walking down the street.
And then I worry about my decisions. I hope I make the right ones and avoid the wrong ones when it comes to mother-daughter relationships. I recently discussed this with a girlfriend who did not find out the sex of her baby until she was born, and immediately she felt anxious about raising a daughter when her own relationship with her mother had always been rocky. I hope that growing up in America would give me an upper hand at raising an American-born child, as the cultural gap between first and second generation family members certainly took a major toll on my youth, especially where expected gender roles were involved. I struggled a great deal to win my independence and asserted it every time I could, something I likely would not have done if raised in India. I want to encourage my own daughter to be strong in her convictions, stand by her morals, pursue an education, be empathetic, learn the value of family early on in a way that I could not, and hopefully build special, tight-knit bonds with her future sibling(s).
I grew up with no extended family living in the U.S. The only time I saw my extended family was when we visited India, perhaps once every 4 years or longer. I grew up learning to love our family friends, but recently I’ve come to realize that even knowing someone for your entire life and considering them to be your family does not guarantee that they view you the same way. I am thankful that my own daughter will be born into a family that surrounds and loves her this way, and whom she can rely on without ever feeling abandoned or forgotten. Of course there will always be a few rotten apples to be weary of, but luckily we have control over who we spend our precious moments with! I want her to also cherish the friends she will make, both in youth and as an adult, who will surprise her and show her how much they care in a way that you’d only expect from blood relatives. Both my husband and I have been greatly disappointed by a handful of family members, but also greatly filled with a sense of joy from many family and friends who have selflessly treated us with such love and care. We are excited to provide a nurturing environment for our own little one, and to hopefully build a strong foundation of family, trust, and love for her.